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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

14 Dec 2020

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

India, Uzbekistan and Iran to Hold Trilateral Meet on Chabahar Port

  • The first meeting of India, Uzbekistan and Iran on the joint use of Chabahar Port will take place virtually. The meeting will be jointly chaired at the deputy minister level from Uzbekistan and Iran and at the secretary-level from India.
  • The announcement comes just a day after the virtual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev. The proposal for the trilateral meet was made by the Uzbek side and India has welcomed Uzbekistan interest to use the Chabahar Port as a transit port and said that this would open up economic opportunities for the traders and business community of the region.
  • The development is seen as an important shot in the arm for India's connectivity plans in the west of it, were often Pakistan has been playing an obstructionist role. India sees the Chabahar Port as a fulcrum of connectivity in the region, and even the US gave an exemption to the project from Iran sanctions since it not only provided humanitarian supplies to Afghanistan but also economic alternatives.

US Proposes $1 Billion Arms Sale to Morocco after Israel Deal

  • The US has proposed selling as much as $1 billion in weapons including Reaper drones to Morocco, after President Donald Trump paved the way for a diplomatic deal with Israel by recognising the country's claims of sovereignty over Western Sahara.
  • The State Department sent informal notification of the proposed sale to Congress, which got the ball rolling for formal processing of the sale.
  • The agreement includes four weapons-capable MQ-9 Reaper drones along with laser-guided munitions, the people said. Reuters reported earlier that the deal was in the works.

EU and UK to Push Brexit Talks beyond Deadline

  • London and Brussels agreed to go the extra mile in coming days to try to reach an elusive trade agreement despite missing their latest deadline to avert a turbulent 'no deal' exit for Britain from the European Union's orbit at the end of the month.
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the president of the EU's executive Commission, Ursula von der Leyen had given negotiators deadline to find a way to resolve an impasse on arrangements that would guarantee Britain zero-tariff and zero-quota access to the EU's single market.
  • Both said that a 'no-deal' was now the most likely outcome, but they mandated negotiators to continue.
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ENVIRONMENT

Expert Spot Extinct Himalayan Serow in Spiti Valley

  • An extinct species, the Himalayan Serow was spotted in the cold deserts of the Spiti valley in Himachal Pradesh. 
  • The re-occurance of the subspecies of the mainland serow was believed to be extinct, has excited environmentalists and wildlife experts in the region. 
  • As per reports, this goat antelope was seen by many belonging to the village of Hurling. After the news of its sighting spread, a wildlife department team was able to take a few photos of the animal. 
  • The Himalayan Serow is included in Schedule one of the Wildlife Extinction. It has been included by the International Union for Conservation for Nature (IUCN) in the near-threatened category. 
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

IMF, World Bank Raise Pressure on Nigeria to Reform Currency

  • The International Monetary Fund and World Bank have intensified calls on Nigeria to speed up currency reforms without which Africa's largest economy may fail to achieve the growth it needs to prevent millions more from falling into penury.
  • According to IMF, a unified and flexible exchange rate will ease external imbalances and bolster activity in the OPEC nation, which slid into its second recession in four years in the third quarter.
  • As per the World Bank President, Muhammadu Buhari's administration needed to change foreign-exchange policies if it wanted to get a $1.5 billion loan. The country is asking for financial help to overcome a crisis that could sink an extra 11 million people into poverty by 2022, bringing the total number to 100 million, or about half of the population.

Oracle Moves Headquarters to Texas, Joining Silicon Valley Exodus

  • Oracle Corporation has moved its headquarters to Texas, from its home state of California to give employees more flexibility on where they do their jobs.
  • The move to Austin from Redwood City means that many of the employees can choose their office location as well as continue to work from home part time or all of the time. The company will continue to support its other US office locations in Santa Monica, California, Seattle, Denver, Orlando, and Burlington, Massachusetts.

Kia Motors Aims to Expand its Sales Network in Smaller Towns

  • South Korean automaker Kia Motors aims to expand its sales network in smaller towns and rural areas as it looks to scale up its presence across the country.
  • The company, which has achieved success in India with models like Seltos and Sonet, is also focusing on enhancing the profitability of its dealer partners.
  • According to Tae-Jin Park, executive director and chief sales officer of Kia Motors India, the company is expanding its network and aiming to reach 300 touch points by the end of this year and will now focus on expansion in tier-IV and upcountry markets which will help further penetrate deeper in the Indian market. 
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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Indonesia Asks SpaceX to Study Country as Venue for Launch Site

  • Indonesia invited SpaceX to assess the possibility of setting up a rocket launch site in the country.
  • President Joko Widodo discussed the idea with SpaceX founder Elon Musk. Musk intends to send a team to Indonesia in January to study partnership opportunities.
  • Indonesia is already holding talks with Musk over potential investment in the country, with Tesla Inc. looking into the possibility of building a plant in Central Java. Indonesia, home to some of the world's largest deposits of copper, nickel and tin, is touting its abundance of the commodities to lure billions of dollars in investment.

Chinese Capsule with Moon Rocks Begins Return to Earth

  • A Chinese space capsule bringing back the first moon rocks in more than four decades has begun its return to Earth.
  • The Chang'e 5 lunar probe left the moon's orbit.
  • The mission landed on the moon earlier this month and collected about 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of samples.
  • The return capsule is expected to land in northern China in the Inner Mongolia region after a three-day journey.
  • The material would be the first brought back since the Soviet Union's Luna 24 probe in 1976.
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SPORTS

Women's T20 World Cup 2023 Schedule and Qualification Process

  • The International Cricket Council (ICC) announced the confirmed schedule and the qualification process for the ICC Women's T20 World Cup which is slated to be played in South Africa in 2023.
  • The 10-team World Cup has now been rescheduled to February 9-26, 2023 and will see the hosts South Africa and the seven top teams on the MRF Tyres ICC Women's T20I Team Rankings as of November 30, 2021 - from the teams that competed at the Australia 2020 event — qualify automatically for the 2023 edition.
  • The remaining two spots will be determined through a qualification process, which will start in August 2021 and will have 37 teams.
  • This is an increase of ten teams from the Women's T20 World Cup 2020 qualification.

Ankita Wins ITF Doubles Title in Dubai

  • Top Indian tennis player Ankita Raina won her third doubles title of the pandemic-hit 2020 season, clinching the Al Habtoor challenge with Ekaterine Gorgodze.
  • The unseeded Indo-Georgian pair won 6-4 3-6 10-6 against Aliona Bolsova Zadoinov from Spain and Slovakian Kaja Juvan in the final of the USD 100,000 hard court events. 
  • It was the fourth doubles final of the season for Ankita but the biggest trophy of the calendar since her earlier two titles were at the USD 25,000 level.  
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NATIONAL AFFAIRS

Telangana CM KCR Seeks Sanction from Centre for Six New Airports in State

  • Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao requested the Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri to speed up the process to build six more airports in the state.
  • Rao requested the Ministry of Civil Aviation to kindly expedite finalising the sites and getting all statutory clearances on a single-window basis so that the government can commence the infrastructure work.
  • Telangana had proposed new airports to be built at Basantnagar (Peddapally district), Mamnoor (Warangal urban), Adilabad, Jakranpally (Nizamabad), Devarkadra (Mehboobnagar) and Bhadradri Kothagudem.
  • Following discussions with the Airports Authority of India (AAI), it was decided that only no-frills airports for smaller aircraft will be developed, which may be expanded in the future for commercial operations depending on demand.

BJP, UPPL and GSP Join Hands for Formation of Bodoland Territorial Council

  • The BJP decided to join hands with the United Peoples' Party Liberal (UPPL) and the Gana Suraksha Party (GSP) to jointly form the next Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) after the just concluded polls resulted in a hung House. The 40-member new Council will be headed by UPPL Chief Promode Bodo, Sonowal.
  • The decision was taken following deliberations among North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) convenor and minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, state BJP President Ranjit Dass, BJP National General Secretary and Mangaldoi MP Dilip Saikia, UPPL Chief Promode Bodo and GSP Chief and Kokrajhar MP Naba Kumar Sarania. 
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DEFENCE

HAL's Avionics Division Assembles First Israeli AESA Radar for Jaguar Jets Locally

  • HAL's Avionics Div, Hyderabad has acquired clearance for the primary AESA Radar (CBU part) to be fitted on the Jaguar DARIN III UPG plane, that is the primary AESA radar being fitted on any platform in India.
  • HAL Hyderabad is the manufacturing company for complete 54 AESA radars underneath ToT from IAI, Elta Methods, Israel. In a short ceremony held on 20 November 2020, the Clearance Certificates was handed over by HV Kumar, RDAQA (Hyd) to Mr. Rajeev Kumar, GM (AD).
  • ELTA ELM-2052 is a Hearth Management Radar FCR designed for air-to-air superiority/strike missions, based mostly on totally solid-state Energetic Electronically Scanning Array AESA tech enabling the radar to attain lengthy detection ranges and multi-target monitoring capabilities.
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PERSONS IN NEWS

Ambrose Dlamini Eswatini's Prime Minister Passes Away

  • Eswatini's Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini has died, four weeks after he tested positive for coronavirus.
  • Dlamini had been Prime Minister of Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland, since October 2018.
  • The tiny landlocked country in Southern Africa is one of the last absolute monarchies in the world.
  • He served as the tenth Prime Minister of Eswatini from October 2018 until his death in December 2020.
  • Prior to his appointment, he worked in the banking and telecommunications sectors, including as managing director of Nedbank and as CEO of MTN Eswatini.
  • He was the youngest head of government in Eswatini's history.

Eminent Sanskrit Scholar Bannanje Govindacharya Passes Away

  • R Sanskrit scholar Vidyavachaspati Bannanje Govindacharya, who was a propagator of 'Madhwa' ideology and a great orator, passed away. He was 84 years old.
  • Bannanje Govindacharya was awarded the Padma Shri, which is the fourth highest civilian honour, by the Government of India in 2009. 
  • Govindacharya has translated several literary pieces and texts from Sanskrit to Kannada. Some of them are Bana Bhatta's novel 'Bana Bhattana Kadambari', Kalidasa's 'Shakuntala' and Shudraka's 'Mrichakatika.' Govindacharya had also translated several historical novels to Kannada.
  • Govindacharya was the brand ambassador of India at the World Conference on Religion and Peace held in Princeton, USA in 1979.
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DAYS AND EVENTS

World Energy Conservation Day

  • December 14th is celebrated as World Energy Conservation Day. Millions of people around the world celebrate in the universal initiative for energy conservation, global warming and climate.
  • World Energy Day serves to focus the attention of decision makers in directing resources towards energy generation through non-conventional sources on a larger scale. Non-conventional sources of energy such as wind, hydel (large, mini and micro), biomass, biogas, biodiesel, geothermal, tidal, solar, nuclear fusion have the potential for being the future sources of carbon-neutral energy. Barring hydel and wind, the cost for all the other forms of energy generation is still quite high.
  • World Energy Conservation Day is celebrated on December 14th every year since 1991.
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AWARDS AND HONOURS

Engineer from Hyderabad Wins World Quizzing Championship

  • Ravikant Avva an engineer from Hyderabad has won the prestigious World Quizzing Championship 2020, an annual international competition, which saw the participation of 668 quizzers from across the world.
  • Ravikant Avva graduated from IIT-Madras and IIM- Ahmedabad and is presently working for a multinational company in Singapore.
  • The championship, conducted by the International Quizzing Association (IQA), this year was an intense two-hour test of general knowledge and current affairs with 240 questions across eight categories, including sciences, history, sports, art and culture.
  • Avva has been active in quizzing for the last 25 years, including topping the WQC standings in the Asia-Pacific region in 2018 and 2019.
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GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

Assam Cabinet Approves Proposal to Shut Down Government-aided Madrasas, Sanskrit Tols

  • In a significant development, the Assam cabinet approved a proposal to close down all government-run madrasas and Sanskrit tols (schools) in the state.
  • Parliamentary Affairs Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said that a bill in this regard will be tabled by BJP-led government in the state during the upcoming winter session of the state Assembly.
  • In October, Assam Education and Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had announced that the state government has decided to shut down all state-run madrasas and Sanskrit tols (schools) as it is not possible for Assam government to use public funds to teach religious scriptures.

Red Channel Agreement

  • The Red Channel Agreement was signed between the World Health Organisation and IFRC (International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies) to implement the Emergency Medical Team Initiative.
  • The Emergency Medical Team Initiative will strengthen the delivery of health and emergency medical services during humanitarian crisis. This will enable the organisations to standardise emergency health response and also increase capacity building efforts.
  • The Agreement will allow WHO to provide increased support to Red Crescent Societies and National Red Cross societies.
  • The agreement will bring more synergies between the two international organizations particularly in standards, coordination and accountability.
  • IFRC is a humanitarian aid organisation that carries out relief operations assisting victims of disasters. It works to strengthen the capacities of its members. Around 192 countries are members of IFRC. The headquarters of IFRC are located in Geneva, Switzerland.

Plea to Karnataka Govt. to Introduce Konkani as Medium of Education

  • Karnataka Konkani Sahitya Academy has urged Chief Minister B. S. Yediyurappa to introduce Konkani as a medium of education in the state.
  • The academy made the request in the context of the proposed national educational policy (NEP) that lays stress on education in the mother tongue.
  • The NEP states that the medium of instruction until at least Class V should be the mother tongue or regional language.
  • The academy also requested the government to include Konkani as a subject for courses like B.Ed and M.Ed and appoint more Konkani educators.
  • Konkani has already been added as a third language for interested students till Class X on an optional basis in both Kannada and Devanagari scripts.
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BOOKS AND AUTHORS

Jairam Ramesh Bags Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay New India Foundation Award

  • Congress leader Jairam Ramesh's biography of former Union Defence Minister V. K. Krishna Menon bagged this year's Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay New India Foundation Award jointly with debutant author Amit Ahuja.
  • Ramesh has clinched the award for authoring the first-ever biography of a man who was the only leader in the 1960s to consistently argue for a negotiated border settlement with China.
  • His book, "A Chequered Brilliance: The Many Lives of VK Krishna Menon" traces the life of one of India's most controversial figures remembered for his "failings" during the 1962 India-China war.
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TOURISM AND HOTEL INDUSTRY AWARENESS

UAE Looks to Domestic Tourism, Desert Winter to Boost Revenue

  • The United Arab Emirates started a campaign to encourage local tourism and promote its desert winters, as it looks to recover from the impact of the pandemic.
  • The UAE, which is reliant on energy and tourism, was hit this year due to the coronavirus and low oil prices, underscoring the need to find new sources of funds.
  • The UAE has launched a unified tourism identity across its seven emirates, and a government strategy to promote domestic tourism. 
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